(US - 2018)
Directed by Shane Black. Written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black. Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski, Brian Prince, Mike Dopud, Lochlyn Munro, Garry Chalk, Duncan Fraser, Francoise Yip. (R, 107 mins)
1987's classic PREDATOR hasn't had a lot of luck with sequels. 1990's PREDATOR 2 has its fans but it's always felt like a script for a post-LETHAL WEAPON/DIE HARD Joel Silver project that had the Predator shoehorned into it, and 2010's PREDATORS (headlined by action icons Adrien Brody and Topher Grace) was instantly and justly forgotten (and if we're counting offshoots, there's 2004's terrible ALIEN VS. PREDATOR and 2007's improved ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM, which isn't a great movie but I'm reasonably certain I'm the only person who didn't hate it). When it was announced that veteran screenwriter (LETHAL WEAPON, THE LAST BOY SCOUT, and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT) and smartass auteur (KISS KISS, BANG BANG and THE NICE GUYS) Shane Black had a PREDATOR project in the works, hopes were high for what came to be rather unimaginatively titled THE PREDATOR. Principal photography wrapped well over a year ago, with a planned March 2018 release, but 20th Century Fox delayed it due to poor test screenings. Black was ordered to scrap the entire third act, with reshoots taking place in March, followed by another delay with still more reshoots being done in July, just two months before the new release date. The reshoots were extensive enough that a character played by Edward James Olmos ended up being eliminated completely, but even going in without that knowledge, you'll be able to spot the exact moment that THE PREDATOR stops being a Shane Black film and starts being a rushed, compromised franchise product with the requisite bush-league CGI (the CGI in the new finale is really bad and doesn't even look finished, because it probably isn't). At least when his buddy Robert Downey Jr got him his IRON MAN 3 comeback gig, Black was still able to make the film he wanted to make.
cue), and the bygone days of 30 years ago that feel akin to something an in-his-prime Joe Dante would've made if he was a misanthropic, sarcastic wiseass. In the end, the best comparison to make with this film is that it's the EXORCIST III of the PREDATOR franchise, a film where studio-mandated, third-act reshoots done by the director under duress are completely at odds with the tone and style of the rest of the movie, yet enough of its creator's voice remains in the first 2/3 that it's still worthwhile. Now that we've seen William Peter Blatty's intended ending of EXORCIST III, it's easy to see why the studio intervened. The end result is not a washout by any means, but time will tell if we ever get to see Black's initial cut of THE PREDATOR. As it is now and as a whole, it's a mild recommendation, but with some caveats.